In Pursuit of Justice and the Common Good

Friends and Family Honor Chuck Merrill ’59

He helped coordinate and plan sit-ins by seminary students in Dallas during the Civil Rights Movement; participated in the founding, staffing and underwriting of the first Head Start School on the Gulf Coast of Texas; provided pastoral care to UT students during Vietnam antiwar marches; raised concern about the death penalty, participating in vigils outside the governor’s mansion; and led Austin’s University United Methodist Church in a steady critique of our nation’s increasingly militaristic approach to world peace.

Reverend J. Charles “Chuck” Merrill ’59 personified “Encouraging activism in the pursuit of justice and the common good,” a Core Value for Southwestern and a compass for his life. In the months following his death, his wife, Trish, and long-time friend and fraternity brother Bruce Barrick ’71 conceived of a way both to honor Chuck’s legacy and to further the social justice issues for which he cared deeply.

“The J. Charles Merrill Endowed Scholarship was launched as a means to inspire the next generations to know about Chuck and to work passionately for good in the world,” says Trish. Every year a student at Southwestern University will be able to pursue studies and interests related to peace and justice for their final two years of study.

“It’s just a perfect fit,” says Rick McKelvey, vice president of institutional advancement at Southwestern, an early champion of the Merrill scholarship. “The Southwestern community takes great pride in its association with such remarkable alumni as Chuck Merrill. Honoring Chuck’s life and promoting issues of peace and justice fits squarely within our mission as a University.”

Early donors have already contributed $30,000 toward the endowed scholarship in just the first several months. Recently, a challenge grant was issued on behalf of the Merrill family. From now until December 29, the family will match dollar for dollar all gifts received for the J. Charles Merrill Endowed Scholarship, up to $25,000. “The idea of this scholarship has clearly resonated with many who knew Chuck and with those who also care deeply about these issues,” added McKelvey.

Chuck Merrill ’59 was a member of Southwestern’s Board of Trustees from 1993–2005.

If you’re interested in supporting The J. Charles Merrill Endowed Scholarship, or would like to honor the legacy of someone important to you, please contact the Office of Development at 512-863-1482.